POB CEO terminated

POB CEO Suresh Modestus Amerasekera
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By Alfred Sasako

FROSTY relations between local staff and their Pan Oceanic Bank (POB) Chief Executive Officer, Suresh Modestus Amerasekera, is over, albeit partially.

Global Management Services [GMS] terminated Mr Amerasekera’s services as of 27th September this year, warning the public it would not be responsible for any action or transactions entered into by Mr Amerasekera from that date.

GMS announced its decision in a paid public Notice published in the Island Sun newspaper today.

“This is to inform the general public that Mr S M Amerasekera who was seconded as CEO-POB has been terminated from employment with Global Management Services. Therefore the Company will not be responsible for any action or transactions entered by/with him with effect from 27th September 2017,” the Notice said.

Global Management Services gave no reason(s) for terminating Mr Amerasekera’s employment.

It would appear the termination is linked to anonymous emails sent to POB staff in May this year, raising a number of issues against Mr Amerasekera and two other foreign executive members of POB.

The emails prompted Staff to raise their grievances, including their professional working relations with the CEO and his other Sri Lankan executive members with the Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI).

Both the CBSI and Mr Amerasekera denied bad working relations exist between the Management and local staff.

In a recent interview with Island Sun, Mr Amerasekera said the management and staff of POB enjoy cordial working relations.

And in response to one of the May emails sent to him, CBSI Governor Denton Rarawa said:

“…while it is difficult to respond to an email with no name, the allegations are very serious and required immediate investigations to substantiate. I have passed the email to our banking supervision and financial intelligence teams to further investigate the allegations,” Mr Rarawa said.

Island Sun has received a copy of the email. In it, POB local staff were demanding the immediate deportation of the bank’s top three executives, citing ill-treatment of local staff and “total disregard of employees’ rights and privileges …”

They named the trio as CEO Suresh Amarasekera, Ajith Perera (Manager Risk & Compliance) and Jude Weerasekera (Head of IT) alleging ill-treatment has forced staff to threaten industrial action if their demands are not met.

“We want Suresh, Ajith and Jude out immediately.”

“These men are strongly supported by the logging Directors of the bank and they have decided to ‘do as they please’ with total disregard to employee rights, privileges and to the good standing of the bank operations. We are unsure as to who we report to, the management or the loggers,” they said in the email which was sent to CBSI Governor Rarawa.

The email warned Mr Rarawa then that local staff would go on strike “if our demands are not met.”

In the email, the disgruntled staff accused loggers of engaging in money laundering using POB for doing so. Loggers were also accused of paying bribes so that POB could keep large deposits from big businesses such as the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund [SINPF], the Solomon Islands Ports Authority [SIPA] and others.

“We know the only reason NPF, SIPA and other big business in Honiara are banking with POB is because loggers pay them bribes to keep the deposits. We also know, the expatriates do not pay NPF or local taxes. They never paid. But they use [the] bank’s money to have lavish parties and spend on lot of overseas trips, taking their families on vacations, when we suffer and none of our requests [are being] met,” the email said.

Mr Rarawa also came for severe criticism by the POB local staff in the email, accusing him of turning a blind eye on many issues in POB.

“POB is having many issues. POB is operating with all rules broken and you turn a blind eye. Are you also getting paid by the loggers? Because we know that some of your officers are be(ing) paid to forget all the bad things the bank did recently,” the email said.

“Our actions are purely based on the ill-treatment (of local staff).

It is not clear whether Mr Amerasekera has left the country as all attempts to contact him over the weekend were unsuccessful.